From cop to the classroom: Schmitt finds his calling working with students

On this week’s episode of “The Honor Role,” Whitewater High public safety and law teacher Scott Schmitt recounts his path from police officer to finding a love of teaching and a home in the classroom. Schmitt with District Attorney Marie Broder on a visit to speak with his students.

Becoming a teacher never seemed like an option for Scott Schmitt growing up, but he took a chance on a change in careers and found his calling.

Now, Schmitt teaches the public safety and law pathway at Whitewater High and is the head varsity boys soccer coach and an assistant coach on the football team. He even finds time to teach driver’s ed.

“I like this teaching gig. I like these kids,” he said. “I like being involved and building relationships with them.”

Growing up outside of Pittsburgh, Schmitt logged a storied four-year career as a quarterback at Geneva College. He double majored in college and was headed for a career in accounting, but he quickly found it wouldn’t bring him the excitement he wanted from his career.

He worked for the local sheriff’s department where he grew up, but he was eager for a change. He sent out resumes around the country, and he was particularly intrigued by two callbacks. He first took an interview with the Peachtree City Police Department, and he jumped when they offered him a job.

His path with the police included stints with the DARE program and later as McIntosh High’s first school resource officer.

He always wanted to be a coach, but coming out of college he wasn’t interested in becoming a teacher. Those opportunities helped Schmitt find a love for giving back to students.

“I really want to do this teaching thing,” he discovered. “I think this will be a great calling to be around the kids.”

He pursued his masters and started out teaching special education, later transitioning into public safety. He cut his teeth teaching and coaching on the staff at McIntosh for a decade.

Fayette County Public Schools has meant a lot to his family. His wife, Caroline, is the coordinator of reading and language arts for elementary school students for the district, and their children attended our schools.

Those close ties are what brought him back here after a stint as the head football coach at Woodland High in Henry County.

“I really wanted to come back here.”

Schmitt has found another passion as a public safety teacher. There’s so much he can show students about a whole new line of career options, and he invites special guests in a wide range of fields, like federal agents, lawyers, and coroners, to speak to the classes. He makes connections to help students get internships and really see if public safety work is for them.

“There’s so much to this profession. It’s all what they want to do,” he said. “I try to bring real-life people that do these jobs, and it’s not all about the police officer.”

His approach has caught on, and the pathway is so popular there is a waiting list to get into the classes. He brings an energy that is infectious, and that keeps him coming back for more every day.

“I love what I do. I wouldn’t change anything about what I do,” he said. “When I don’t love what I do, then it’s time to head out.”

“The Honor Role,” the first official podcast for Fayette County Public Schools, features employees, rotating through key stakeholders, including teachers, staff, nurses, custodians, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers. Join us as we dive in and learn about their journeys, their inspirations, and their whys.

Episodes are available on all major podcast platforms, including Spotify and Apple Podcasts, and promoted on the social media channels of Fayette County Public Schools.

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